Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission’s Emergency Family Shelter (EFS) in Belltown provides overnight shelter for homeless women and their children. EFS houses families for up to 30 days while they seek permanent housing, and can serve up to 48 individuals per night.

At EFS, you will discover how God sometimes uses simple experiences like a warm meal to help redirect a person’s entire life. These basic needs must be satisfied before anyone could imagine a different life.

Join other STM staff on the second Wednesday of every month at the shelter to bring a healthy meal for the women and their children!

Contact Lisa Gustaveson or Hannah Hunthausen if you’d like to join us!


  • What is the Emergency Family Shelter? It is a drop-in, overnight shelter for women and children that has been opened in partnership between Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and Mary’s Place to meet the growing need for temporary shelter for this demographic as they wait to find placement in longer-term housing solutions.
  • What is the address of the Emergency Family Shelter?  314 Bell Street, Seattle, WA 98121.
  • What can I volunteer to do at the shelter?  By far, our biggest volunteer need at the shelter right now is for volunteers to cook and serve a meal to the women and children staying there each night!
  • What days can I volunteer on?  The shelter is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  We need volunteers every day!
  • Who can volunteer?  Almost anyone!  There is no experience needed, and the shelter is open to volunteers of all ages. That means that kids and youth are welcome to volunteer too!
  • How many people can volunteer at one time?  We can host up to 20 volunteers in the shelter at a time.


  • Do I (or my group) need to provide the food that will be cooked and served at the shelter?  Yes. We so appreciate your willingness and generosity!
  • What happens when there are no volunteers, do guests still get to eat dinner?  Yes, the women and children always get a hot meal.  We have been really fortunate to have had food donations and leftovers on hand to fill in any gaps.  In the absence of that, in a true pinch, we can bring food from the men’s shelter.
  • How many people should the meal feed?  48 people, plus however many are coming in your group.
  • Are there any foods we should NOT cook? We are suggesting that groups do not cook any pork products, as some of our women and children have religious/dietary restrictions with pork.
  • What should we cook?  Almost anything goes!  But, we suggest making 30 meals with a meat option and 10 with a vegetarian option.
  • Where should we cook the meal?  The meal can be cooked off-site and brought to the shelter for serving or can be cooked on-site in the kitchen at the shelter (though the kitchen is a bit small and prep time is limited to one hour, so be sure to factor that in).
  • Can we eat the meal too?  Yes!  In fact, we encourage you to!  You (and your group) should feel free to sit down with the guests at the shelter once you are done serving and share the meal with them.
  • Can my group just cook a meal and drop it off without doing the serving? Yes.  If you are able to provide the cooked meal and cannot serve it, it is okay to just drop the meal off at the shelter between 5:30 & 6:15pm to be served by staff.


5:15pm-6:15pm Volunteers arrive at the shelter to prepare their meal. When the meal is ready or if there are more than enough cooks in the kitchen, volunteers are also free to play with kids to give the mothers some respite at the end of the day.

6:30pm- Dinner is served!  Volunteers serve the meal and are welcome to grab a plate, eat and visit with the families!

7:00pm-7:30pm – Clean up time. Volunteers are welcome to help clean up dinner, play with the kids and visit with the moms after dinner. Volunteers are free to leave anytime after dinner and are welcome to stay as late as 8:00pm.


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